LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - By Holley Nees - email
LUFKIN, TX (KTRE) - Bettie Kennedy has never met her father. She was adopted by her aunt and uncle.
"It is very important and it was most important then to know where you came from," Kennedy said. "It's difficult for a child to achieve if they don't know their history."
She says the Census was the tracking device she needed to find out about her family members. A librarian made the find.
"I'll never forget that day that he said come by the library Bettie, I want to show you something," Kennedy said. "When he showed it to me, I just broke down and cried because it's a healing process to know that the Census of 1870 meant so much to one person in searching for their family."
Kennedy says ever since that day the Census helped her find out about her family, she's been working to get other people counted.
"I just go up and down the streets and stop them and the response has been extremely well," Kennedy said. "Many of them said I filled them out time I got it, I filled mine out yesterday."
The Census says all your information is confidential. But, after 72 years, it becomes public. So Kennedy was able to use the 1870 Census to find out where her family came from, their age, and occupation.
"It inspired my interest even greater to look at the names," Kennedy said. "Something about the written names. To think of my grandfather could not read nor write so someone had to help him to fill the census out."
Now in 2010, she too is doing the same -- helping others fill it out and send it in.
"If he hadn't have taken those minutes, we would've been lost," Kennedy said.
Now she makes sure East Texans take the few minutes so future generations can find where they fit in America's snapshot.